Bullet Points & Insecurities

I can’t lie. My first reaction to reading another individual’s writing does not come without an unspoken rating scale. Posts on Facebook, texts from friends, even my favorite copy of C. S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed” where I cringe whenever I run across that one typo…I fear that it all leads to one conclusion: I, albeit subconsciously, view literacy as a level to reach and not a practice. Okay, okay, let’s say that is where I started in late January. I would love to say that two months later, after vigorous reading of arguments and the unpacking of theories, I have a different stance. I believe literacy is better suited as a verb and not a noun.


However, even as I write this, there are a variety of thoughts running through my head. In the first 15 minutes after we started, here are a few of those thoughts:


I’m not creative writing, I’m religious studies and literature. How will the other students see my writing?

Will Kim get mad at me if I ask her how long this should be?

I really like bullet points. Can I just use bullet points? Should I ask Kim…

I kind of want to change my blog topic but I already have two paragraphs written- not worth it.


In my hypocrisy I recognize the problems with assigning literacy as a level to reach. The expectations are so engrained in our practices, and tear down not only the ability to let ideas freely flow, but also the confidence in said ideas.


There is a real difference between literacy as a noun and literacy as a verb. Their definitions stand apart but the influence of one on the other is indisputable.


NOUN: Literate

-No spelling errors

-Correct paragraph formatting

-Eloquent verbiage

-Follows the rules

-Can read at appropriate and expected levels

-If there is lack of things listed above, intellect is questioned.


VERB: Literacy

-Reading/writing/speaking at own abilities by actively responding to a prompt, situation, or life

-Rules are only set if your goal is to become “literate”


What believing in NOUN does to VERB:

-Immediately causes the individual to place their literacy practice on the stand- even without acknowledging this.

-Causes one to jump on the hamster-wheel of the chase of being literate: this is only achieved through literacy practices, which are affected by the expectation to “reach” a level of literacy anyway.


This also begs the question of the amount of power that we all have to subscribe to one of these. As stated in the beginning, I prefer the idea of the verb literacy, of presenting my ideas through my own personalized abilities. As a grad student at a California State University, the expectation to follow the standard format is unarguable, expected and can’t be changed. I am a current student who wants to stand on the other side as an adjunct professor and has a “LITERATE” stamp ready at hand. It was given to me throughout my life in this school system and I am well trained to use it. Is it more noble if I’m now learning to use it only on myself?